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MBTS Media and Business Tracking Solution: Francesco Mariola

Measuring advertising effectiveness is more important than ever; now a local entrepreneur makes it possible.

Monique Verduyn



Francesco Mariola of MBTS

“How do I measure advertising results?” It’s a question asold as advertising itself, and a conundrum best summed up by the Britishfounder of multinational company Unilever, Lord Leverhulme: “Half the money Ispend on advertising is wasted; the problem is I don’t know which half.” Marketers spend billions each year in the quest to keepgrowing their brand equity and market share. With our own economy in a slump,and a worldwide recession in full swing, companies are under increasingpressure to deliver a measurable return on their advertising investment. In thepast, the 80/20 principle applied and you could spend 20% of your budget on“nice-to-haves”. Today, that no longer stands. Companies need to spend only onmarketing that works.

The problem, however, says Francesco Mariola, CEO of Mediaand Business Tracking Solution (MBTS), is that advertisers often base theirmedia placement on ‘gut feel’. “In today’s age of technology sophistication andadvancements, such practices are outdated and fall far short of meeting thedemands of a hostile, constantly evolving business environment,” he says. In 2007, Mariola founded MBTS and focused on developinghis web-based software application of the same name that determines theefficacy of all communication spend against actual transactional or sales data,regardless of whether they run concurrently.

Research &development

MBTS contracted KPMG to define and develop the businessrequirements, as well as the system’s functional specifications. The solutionis built on a platform that conforms to international standards and is patentedglobally through Spoor & Fisher. Mariola developed, tested and refined MBTS in thedemanding FMCG, retail, wholesale, chain store and cellular environments. It’sa solution that delivers scientific results, increases a marketer’sdeliverables and converts budget into tangible results while enhancing everymarketing effort. MBTS provides intelligence through expenditure profiling,trend analysis and forensic auditing, by converging media, sales and marketinginto one business environment. “Companies know where they are spending their advertisingbudgets, but they have no idea how effective that advertising is,” Mariolasays. “Some works brilliantly, some is utterly useless. People just don’t knowhow to determine what works and what doesn’t.” Then there is the matter of saturation. Advertisers spendR1 million on a campaign and their sales double; they up that spend to R3million and their sales triple; but at some point, the return on investmentwill suddenly plateau. That is when saturation point is reached. The problem isthat advertisers do not know whether saturation has been reached at R3 millionor at R19 million; they could be wasting R16 million marketing spend.

Adding value tomarketing

“Certain advertising platforms and mediums work betterthan others. Prime time shows like Sewende Laan have excellent ARs, but if theviewers are not my target audience, that means nothing to me and it willcertainly not generate sales of my products. And sales is ultimately all thatmatters.” With the ad industry already having been impacted by therecession and advertisers expecting their marketers and agencies to be moreresults driven, Mariola says the response to MBTS has been positive as peoplerealise how much value the solution brings to advertisers. “South African companies are not slashing marketing budgetsso much as demanding that their return on advertising spend is maximised.What’s even more positive is that it is possible to gain 20% to 30% more returnon the same spend if you are able to determine what works best for yourproduct.

Measuring effectiveness

MBTS tracks advertising results by region, store, productand category. “The key is to determine the effectiveness of all communicationspend against actual transactions, regardless of whether communication typesrun concurrently. We rank all communication efforts against actual delivery bymost effective to least effective; identify the marketing saturation pointswhere no matter the spend, transactions no longer react positively and create‘waste’; measure the impact of competitor activity; and also the effects thatadvertised lines have on lines that are not advertised.”

Generating newbusiness

In the banking sector, MBTS has enabled clients tomaximise the insights gained from marketing campaigns to draw new accounts. Forexample, advertising a new type of cheque account can impact on a number ofother transactions across the bank. “We are able to verify the effects thatadvertising a particular product or service can have on an organisation’s otherlines. We can also help companies compare communication placed againsthigh-margin products with that spent on low-margin lines. It makes sense forthem to spend more on products that yield a greater margin.” FMCG clients are able to see how many units of a productwere sold on which day, through which outlet, as a result of a marketing drive.Data is uploaded directly from all channels across the business on a dailybasis. This means that problems can be recognised and remedied immediately, notafter three months when the budget has already dried up.

Media and Business Tracking Solution



Francesco Mariola

Est. 2007


+27 11 615 6006

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.


25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

Find out who’s making waves in numerous industries and how they managed to differentiate themselves in local and international industries.

Nicole Crampton



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“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there,” says Richard Branson.

South Africa has its fair share of innovative and disruptive businesses taking both local and international industries by storm. From cutting edge space technology to reimagined logistics, and innovative business models, here are 25 of the most successful business ideas in South Africa:

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Colin Timmis Says ‘Position Yourself For Success By Starting With The Numbers’

People pay first who they feel pressure from, so people will pay you when they feel pressure from you.






Entrepreneur Colin Timmis founded South Africa’s first cloud accounting practice in 2011, Real Time Accounting. Then, a few years after being appointed as South Africa’s first Xero partner Colin became Xero Country Manager South Africa. Xero is the emerging global leader of online accounting software that connects small businesses to their advisors and other services.

Related: Pat Pillai On How He’s Helped Over 5000 Entrepreneurs Using 3 Key Steps

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Company Posts

Two 20 Year Olds Reshape Entrepreneur Landscape With New Social Investment Platform

The Merge vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

Merge Connect




Vital Stats

It’s no secret that finding the right investor for your venture is a challenge that most entrepreneurs face. The current process of finding investment is one that is outdated, and limits entrepreneurs due to a lack of time, and network that is needed to find the right investor. But, this doesn’t have to be the case in today’s digital society, says Zander Matthee and Brandon Bate, co-founders of Merge.

“By making the Internet the middleman, we are able to connect with each other much simpler and faster than before” was Zander’s response. “We have taken advantage of this, and have created a digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors” added Brandon.

Merge is a social platform that connects entrepreneurs and investors. It aims to simplify, refine and accelerate the process of finding investment for entrepreneurs, and the process of finding investment opportunities for investors. From idea to developed, the platform allows entrepreneurs to present a brief outline of their venture to a network of all investor types. While doing this, entrepreneurs are able to browse through, and connect with investor profiles that suit their requirements.

Related: 8 Codes Of Success That Helped Priven Reddy of Kagiso Interactive Media Achieve A Networth Of Over R4 Billion

From Private Investors to Venture Capital, and everything in between, Merge allows all investor types to join. Investors have the opportunity to personalise their feed to suit their investment preferences, and will be able to connect with innovative businesses – that are looking for investment – at their fingertips. Only once there is a mutual interest in each other, are users able to enter a secure private chat where they can discuss further and share documents under the protection of a digital NDA.

The two boys became good friends during their time in high school at St Stithians Boys College. However, it was only in their last year, 2016, that they decided to pursue their dreams and create the platform. They didn’t know how to code, so rather ironically, they needed some form of investment to get the platform off the ground.


“We knew we had a mountain to climb, but we believed in our vision and that we were really trying to make a difference, and if we could get others to see that, they would be onboard.” said Zander.

Related: Lessons From The Rich And Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah To Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage

Chris Peters is one of these individuals that bought into their vision, and became Merge’s first investor. As a successful entrepreneur and part time investor , Chris saw how much value the platform could bring to all entrepreneurs and investors alike. His marketing and strategic background gave him insight into how Merge could play a vital role in a lucrative space, Brand involvement.

“Entrepreneurship and SME development are two key factors that drive economic growth in developing countries like South Africa. That is why brands are currently getting involved, and looking to support entrepreneurs through various means. We have built a platform that allows these brands to successfully market, and execute on the programmes they have created to assist entrepreneurs.” said Chris

Merge was created to assist all entrepreneurs and investors in finding exactly what they are looking for, regardless of age, race, sex, financial position or social status. That is why anybody can sign-up as an entrepreneur. As long as you are determined and willing to work for your dreams. For too long has the investor space been seen as an “elite club for the select few”, and Merge is here to change that. Whether you’ve gotten your bonus at the end of the year and looking for new investment opportunities, or are an active investor, you can sign-up. Whether you’re currently working, or a retired industry leader, you can join as a mentor.

Their vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

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